Students ponder possible spring break plans

By Jason Thurlkill

With thoughts of commencement and summer internships on the minds of many, Chicago students are talking about another one of the most important decisions they will make this year: how to spend spring break.

Students are busy finalizing their destinations, making last-minute travel arrangements, and deciding how to spend their precious moments away from school between the end of winter quarter on March 19 and the beginning of spring quarter on March 28. Trading Camus for the sandy beaches of Cancún and trips to the Regenstein for trips back home, undergraduate and graduate students have chosen from many options to satisfy their end-of-quarter desires.

Many winter-weary students opted for affordable group packages to popular fair-weather resorts like Cancún, South Padre, and Fort Lauderdale sold by college-friendly companies like STA Travel and Leisure Tours. Other students, like Sarah Jilani, a fourth-year biology concentrator in the College, chose not to take packaged trips and planned their own instead. “I’m going to Jamaica with friends, to a place that’s warm,” she said.

While many students intend to enjoy the exotic features of their vacation spots and their fellow vacation goers, others have more practical aspirations for their time off. Tonya Mann, a master’s student at the Harris School, is taking a trip to Washington, D.C. to secure a job offer. “I hope to create networks with professionals who might be able to offer me a job or direct me to a colleague who has a position available that I might fit into after graduation,” Mann said.

Joanna Slotkin, a fourth-year Cinema and Media Studies major in the College, will be visiting her family. “Then I’m coming back to finish up my B.A.,” she said. For some students, the trip back home is also a much-needed opportunity to reconnect with family members and the comforts of home. “I miss India and Indian food. I can’t wait to get out of Hyde Park for a little while,” confessed Prajakti Kalra, a master’s student in the Committee on International Relations.

For students who stay in Chicago and do not want to spend all their time relaxing, partying, or staying indoors, many campus area organizations will offer “alternative” spring breaks. Students working with the Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, for instance, will participate in the Chicago Urban Project, a community outreach ministry that gives college students across the nation an opportunity to provide social services like tutoring and repairing buildings to residents of Austin and Lawndale in Chicago. “CUP isn’t just a service project,” explained campus coordinator Joel Selkin. “It’s also about engaging our minds.”

Second-years accepted into the ABG Externship program, sponsored by Career Advising and Planning Services, will shadow university alumni from organizations including The Wall Street Journal and Lehman Brothers.

Some students, however, plan on cooling their career and academic engines over the highly anticipated break. “I’m going back home to Ohio, and I’m not planning on doing anything,” said Nikhil Patel, another master’s student at the Committee on International Relations. On his way back home, he might cross paths with Rui Tio, a fourth-year political science major in the College. “I’m not sure yet of my plans,” he mentioned cautiously. “I’ll probably drive off into the sunset, but I don’t know what direction yet.”

Regardless of their ultimate destinations, most students plan on using their spring break to steer their lives away from T.A. sessions and early morning lectures to a more carefree activity—whether it’s surfing in the Florida Keys or just channel-surfing at home.